Normally I don’t give Disney merchandise a second glance, mainly because they’re a dime a dozen in addition to being just about everywhere. However, these plates caught my eye recently as I was perusing the local Target.
What did it was that they’re a break from the norm with all their construction lines that are reminiscent of the centerline technique that was popular back in the 1930s. It’s something a wee bit different from the usual, sterile stuff. Anyways, enjoy!
No, it’s certainly not Mickey Mouse and if you watch the whole thing, you’ll see ‘Minnie’ engaging in some things that Walt would never have allowed get off the animator’s table!
From what I can tell (thanks to this post over on Classic Cartoons), it’s by the Van Beuren Studios and features the characters of Milton and Rita Mouse.
Released in 1930 at just about the time that Mickey was gaining traction with audiences, Circus Capers makes it seem pretty clear as to how Milton came about.
What’s interesting though is that someone was copying Walt at all. I’m willing to bet he found it amusing on some level, that as someone who was derided Hollywood for making animated films and who ran up against con-men everywhere he went, was actually being copied from by someone else!
Copying has pervaded the Hollywood ecosystem pretty much since its inception. It goes for other forms of creation too, books, paintings, songs, you name it, if you become a success, people will attempt to emulate you. Of course, the real money can’t be found in copying someone, only in creating something new that people like.
Is copying all bad though? Nah, I don’t think so. I’m willing to wager that the blatant knock-offs only served to increase the popularity of Mickey and Minnie. Walt was right to sue in this case though as Milton and Rita are blatant carbon copies. He won the case, most likely as a violation of trademark no copyright.You can be sure though, that whenever a major studio decides to copy an idea, they’ll have an army of lawyers pour over it to make sure it can stand up in court as an original idea.
In the end, I think Milton and Rita did Mickey and Minnie no harm at all. By that stage, Disney had enough experience as a studio to out-create others and Walt’s eye for quality ensured that their films would resonate most with audiences around the world.
I, on the other hand, continue to await the day when someone copies me. 🙂